I lose things. I lose them and then I tend to blame other people. I never blame them to their face I just do it in my mind. I admit it’s a very bad habit especially since the suspected person hasn’t done anything. Most of the time the person never exists.
When I was young my father lost a lot of things too. Except in his case he knew he was the culprit. I remember watching him storm around the house searching madly for something.
“I’m losing my mind!” he would bellow.
“What’s the matter?” I would ask cautiously.
“What’s the matter?” He would sigh and place his hands on his hips. “I’ll tell what’s the matter. I can’t find my god-damned glasses that’s what the matter.”
I would stare at him and twist my mouth.
“What?” he would have asked.
I’d point. “They’re on your head.”
His hand would reach up and drop the glasses down onto his face. Then he would slide them further down his nose and peer out over the top of the frames. “Are these my glasses?”
“You know they are!”
“Yes,” I would have nodded.
The entire family discovered his glasses on his head or resting on the car dashboard or next to the toilet with a magazine. My father “lost” keys, shoes, watches, socks, important papers, you name it, but he always just blamed himself.
I have evolved. With my inherited bad habit there’s often an unsuspecting culprit.
Several years ago we hired a carpenter from The Pennysaver (again) who showed up while we were both working and was let inside by our son who was home for the weekend. The carpenter was supposed to install a large glass medicine cabinet and repair a wall inside our clothe’s closet. After removing the old cabinet he discovered such a mish mash of beams inside the wall that he backed off of the job.
Jackson called me and explained the problem but I was having none of it.
“Let me speak to him!” I demanded.
The conversation that followed didn’t go well when he reported that he was going to put the old cabinet back and just repair the closet at the original cost for both. He further explained that the closet was a bigger job than he had anticipated. After a lot of back and forth he said, “I am going to finish this wall that I started and you can send me a check for whatever you feel the work deserves!”
“Fine,” I said and we never spoke again.
When I returned home he had done a nice job but I was still a little rattled by his manner. We begrudgingly mailed him a check for the full amount. That would have been the end of it except the following day I went to put fruit in the hand-blown fruit bowl that normally sat in the middle of the dining room table.
“It’s gone,” I declared.
We tried to remember the last time we had used it and who could have had the means to steal the bowl. The logical conclusion was the angry carpenter.
“He was the only one who had the opportunity,” Rob decided. “He let himself out while Jackson was in his room.”
“He was also unsure what we were going to pay him for the job and he wanted to get something.” I added.
We had a fleeting thought to try to find out where he lived, drive over, and pull a George Costanza.
“Ah hah!” we would exclaim, as we stormed into his kitchen and pointed at the fancy fruit bowl that his wife was busily arranging with her plastic fruit collection. But of course some sanity returned to us and we resisted. Over the years we would tell the fruit bowl story to anyone who would listen.
Then this winter while I was housebound after foot surgery I started to lose things with reckless abandon. I lost my gold watch the same day we had a cleaning woman for the first time. Coincidence? She is a nice, hard working woman who rescued me after a fall and drove me to my doctor’s office, free of charge. Still we couldn’t find the watch and I had never left the house during the period it went missing.
After the emergency trip to the doctor’s office I had returned home without my clown shoe and called the office to explain their error. They denied it but said I could come in for another shoe just the same. How inconvenient.
Early spring arrived and I was able to return to work, remove the boot and eventually start to live a more normal existence. This led to cleaning out my closet where I discovered a long missing Chinese coin that Rob had given me for good luck. I pocketed the coin and carried on. The next day I continued with my cleaning spree and way in the back of a deep cabinet over the refrigerator, under a platter, sat the hand-blown fruit bowl I had written off as stolen over four years ago. It was an odd moment that made us take stock of ourselves. It begged the question: Could we change?
A few weeks later I opened up the sleeper couch in the den and discovered my watch—still ticking. As I strapped it to my wrist I cringed at the thoughts I had harbored against the innocent cleaning woman. Later that week Rob discovered the missing clown shoe inside a laundry basket in the basement. I tried not to think about the words I had spoken about an uncaring medical staff.
These discoveries led to a top to bottom house cleaning that has not ended. Besides accepting personal blame for missing items I was going to combat my inherited forgetfulness with good old-fashioned organization.
With everything back in order I was fully reformed. But in the course of two days I have rapidly regressed. My sister Susan was visiting. Just before an outing I was unable to track down my handbag even after an extensive search. I assumed the worst.
“Someone came through the front door while we were on the lower deck and stole my purse!”
“No?” Rob exclaimed.
“Maybe you should keep the door closed when you’re in the back,” Susan suggested completely unaware of our past transgressions.
Rob called my phone and we discovered the bag and all the contents inside the den. The following day I decided that someone had made off with my laptop from the upper deck. It turned out Quinn had moved it to a chair in the dining room. Okay, so do I need a step program? Accusers Anonymous maybe?
The night before my sister left we went down to the dock to sit for a bit and discovered an empty umbrella stand where a large, nine foot umbrella had once stood.
“Oh my god,” I exclaimed. “Someone stole our umbrella?”
“Are you sure,” Susan asked.
“Well it was right there and now it’s not,” I said, pointing at the hollow stand.
“Wow,” she said.
What else could one say?
“Somebody rowed over here, came on our deck and plucked out the umbrella and rowed away. The nerve—,” I continued until my eye rested on half an umbrella sticking up out of the water a little further down the shore. “Oh,” I added. “I guess the wind did it.”
“Mystery solved,” Susan said.
Several days later we discovered the umbrella had been retrieved from the muck and returned to our dock by an anonymous and helpful neighbor whose very last intention was to keep it for themselves. I think I’ll start that chapter of false accusers–if I can find any.